LWV History


The League of Women Voters (LWV) was founded in 1920 by Carrie Chapman Catt shortly before the Women's Suffrage Amendment was ratified. After years of hard work and organizing, women across the country suddenly had the right to vote so the LWV next structured itself to help those newly enfranchised women become politically educated and responsible voting citizens. In 1973, the national charter was modified giving men the opportunity to join the League.

Over the years the League has opened the door to intellectual activity and involvement in political life. When the political establishment first began seeing women as capable of serving on local boards and holding office, they naturally began seeking their advice and support. The League continues to study many issues and actively promotes reform where necessary. The LWV remains a pertinent citizen voice in local governance and will continue to serve as a training ground for many community leaders to come.

The Florida League was formed in 1939 by three local Leagues: St. Petersburg, Winter Haven and Winter Park-Orlando. Currently in Florida there are 29 local leagues statewide. Nationally the LWV is in every state as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and worldwide as far away as Hong Kong with a total of 900 state and local leagues.

Space Coast history goes back to 1948 when the first League in Brevard County, the League of Women Voters of Cocoa, was formed with twenty-one members. When the original charter was granted the League asked to be called the Central Brevard League. This request was denied since county appellations could not be used.

In 1953 the request was again made and denied.

Since the LWV locally, through membership and activity, truly represented Central Brevard rather than simply Cocoa, in 1960 the request to change the name was finally granted and effective Sept. 1, 1960 the organization became known as the LWV of Central Brevard.

In the meantime, a group in the south end of the county formed the South Brevard League in 1958, and the Central Brevard League was pleased to cooperate with its sister League in the south. The 72 mile county received a wider dissemination of information on political issues and local concerns.

Ten years later, 1970 came another name change-the Cape Kennedy Area LWV.

The Cape LWV program included water pollution, land use and growth under county government, modernization of local government, support of county programs to stregthen health, education and welfare, and support for the Cape's yardstick on charter government.

South Brevard programs covered local government services, organization, land use, finance and taxation policies and procedures governing major political parties in Brevard. A major continued program was a study of the water resources of South Brevard.

Community services included publications, i.e., "Contact", "Election Extra" and "This is Brevard County". The Leagues provided local voter registration drives, staffing of voting machines, candidate forums and studies in areas of general citizen concerns.

In May of 1978 a leadership crisis faced the LWV of South Brevard, due to a move out of state by its president. However, the problem was resolved and the League continued to operate. Discussion began about ways of cutting down on duplication of projects by both Leagues. Inevitably this led to talk of combining the Cape Kennedy and South Brevard chapters and on Nov. 19, 1979 those Leagues consolidated to become the LWV of the Space Coast. The first annual meeting was held in April of 1980.